One of my fondest memories from childhood was praying with my grandmother. During our summer breaks from school, my sister and I got extended visits with her at her small house in the country. It was during this time that she provided us a nightly ritual that was filled with Spirit. Once we were cleaned and dressed in our nightgowns, my grandmother propped us up in our fluffy twin bed and would pull a chair beside us, instructing me and my sister to put our hands together for our nightly prayer. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” we began reciting in unison with a smile on our faces and a spark of innocence in our hearts. She then let us take turns and gave each of us free range to pray about whoever and whatever we saw fit. She always honored both of us for our thoughtfulness in prayer, and then kissed our cheeks and said, “sweet dreams!”

My grandmother was a devout Southern Baptist woman. During our stays she would send me and my sister to church camp during the day where we explored the topic of God. We talked about what it meant to be children of God through stories and by doing fun arts & crafts. I really never knew what it all meant, I just knew that I felt appreciated and nurtured around those God-loving, small-town women who taught me. It did, however, plant a seed in my young mind about the accessibility of God that would be later tended to as an adult in pursuit of spiritual living, and eventually accepting my own unique path of ministry.

My Grandmother - Emily Ashley ( God is Personal )

My Grandmother

Contrary to my grandmother, my mother was angry and jaded from the Southern Baptist upbringing and wanted nothing to do with religion for many years. During that time there was a lot of struggle in the household, and although it was very tough, I look back upon those experiences with gratitude for the hidden blessings they provided. When I was about 14 years old, in the muck of a great deal of pain within my family and turmoil within myself, I felt I could no longer take the struggle. My solution was to run away from home. It was that very night when I experienced, for the first time ever, the grace of God.

I walked for 10 or 15 miles down the road in the pitch dark of the night, northbound to my boyfriend’s parent’s house. I wasn’t able to call him to tell him I was on my way. I just showed up to his front door sobbing. I told him about the grievances that occurred in my house and asked to be alone in his room a while. For that next hour I sat on the floor of his room in a fetal position with my forehead and knees glued to the floor, begging God for divine intervention. With my hands held tight, I chanted, “God, please help me!” that entire hour. I was desperate. I was sincere, and I felt in so much need. I discovered later that these attitudes are key to unlocking the awareness of God’s existence in our lives, for as Jesus states in the Bible, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

What happened next was to my astonishment. The feeling of the room elevated and I felt a strong presence enter the room from above me. This presence was the most gentle, caring and unconditionally loving being I had ever felt up to that point. My thoughts were completely suspended as if all of my concerns had been taken away from me, and with this huge weight being lifted I could breathe more fully. Then, I felt the sensation of a touch on my back. The touch was like no physical hand could give. It was nurturing, compassionate and accompanied by a permeating presence of divinity. I knew God was with me. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind.

When the experience was complete I walked into the kitchen where my boyfriend lay with his head on the kitchen table. I sat down and with wonder glistening from my eyes I said, “The most amazing thing just happened to me.” To my surprise he replied awe-struck, “You felt that too?” We sat together in tears and were in silence the rest of the night. It was this mystical experience that gave me the understanding that God is not just an idea. God is an experience of the divine which is present inside us at all times. With that happening, along with many others, I was lead to explore spirituality in a deep and profound way.

Less than a decade following that miraculous happening, I discovered a spiritual school in my hometown called the School of Metaphysics. It was here where I learned metaphysical principles, spiritual healing and practical ways to apply the consciousness of the Creator in my life. Through the coursework I’ve studied holy works from all around the world and from all cultures that have aided me to see Truth and use it to guide myself, and others, by wisdom. I’ve been able to look back upon that night when I was 14 and see how I was able to allow God into my life. What I’ve learned, which I now incorporate into the ways I minister to my students, is that when we seek a higher power and concentrate fully upon this connection, by Universal Law we allow it into our life’s experience. As it states in the Bible, “Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you.” Many people are not concerned about this Higher Power until a terrible circumstance arrives and they seek out of desperation, as I did. Yet God is ever-present and seeks to increase our wellbeing always. Instead of asking for God’s help through crisis, we can ask for the touch of the Divine through daily communion. I now speak to God through meditation, chanting and prayer, and receive the messages He has especially for me. This helps me greatly in being of service to the people in my life rather than thinking they need to change for me to be happy. My connection with God increases my own Self-reliance and purity of heart.

Being connected to the mind of God adds significant meaning to our lives. This communion has personally given me support, strength, clear perceptions about my next steps, and alignment within my very own being. When we all have a conscious connection to our Source, we begin to live a life with purpose, passion and intelligence. When we listen to the intuitive nature of Spirit we begin to feel that we are always in the right place at the right time and with the right people in front of us. The support allows for a comfortability with all of life and we see the world as a harmonious place to be. Here we are also more able to see our unique gifts to give to others and therefore experience more fulfilment and peace. The idea of God is the experience of our Divine unfolding. Being the witness to this beauty we can truly create heaven on earth and watch the miracles of life unravel our Truthful nature.

Feature Photo by Lel4nd God is Personal